AT&T Ups Bounty To $250,000 For Leads On Fiber Bandits

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AT&T on Friday afternoon announced it increased the reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the parties who cut fiber-optic cables in the San Francisco Bay Area to $250,000.

The telco announced a $100,000 reward on Thursday, but boosted the reward to $250,000 "as the full scope of the vandalism became more clear," the company said in a statement.

"We have zero tolerance for any criminal who would attack our network and the many customers -- both consumers and businesses -- who depend on the services the network delivers," John Stankey, president and CEO of AT&T Operations, said in a prepared statement. "We are aggressively working with law enforcement authorities to see that those responsible for this willful act are apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

The fiber cuts, which occurred early Thursday morning in San Jose and San Carlos, Calif., knocked out phone and Internet service for more than 50,000 Verizon landline customers as well as thousands of mobile-phone customers of AT&T, Verizon and Sprint Nextel.

AT&T said it had fully restored network service by 6 a.m. Pacific time Friday. Comcast, the incumbent cable provider in the area, did not experience any service disruptions because of the network damage.

AT&T is currently negotiating with the Communications Workers of America to reach an agreement on contracts for nearly 100,000 unionized employees. The previous contracts expired at midnight on April 4.

The CWA has issued flat denials that its members had any involvement in the vandalism.

"I can state that CWA members have nothing to do with this at all," spokeswoman Candice Johnson told the San Francisco Chronicle. "There is an investigation going on, and we'll fully cooperate. But our members are working. They're on the job."

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